Andrej Babiš found guilty by the Municipal Office in Černošice
On January 21st the Municipal Office in Černošice decided on the basis of the August complaint by Transparency International Czech Republic (TI CZ), that the Czech Prime Minister has committed a misdemeanour and is in a conflict of interest because of his media control through the Agrofert holding.
Andrej Babiš, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic | source: Mr. Michal Růžička, MAFRA
According to a statement by Andrej Babiš for iRozhlas.cz, it is clear how Černošice decided. “I strongly disagree. It is politicized. I will definitely appeal, and if necessary, I will also take the case to the Administrative Court.”
“This is a breakthrough decision. The very essence of the matter is that the conflict of interest of the Prime Minister must be solved, which is now probably ordered by the public institution. The options are clear; either giving up the political functions or selling the media part of Agrofert,” says David Ondráčka, Director of TI Czech Republic and member of the global TI’s Board of directions.
Last year, TI filed two complaints about the conflict of interests of Prime Minister Babiš after drawing attention to a document in the Slovak Register of Public Sector Partners in June (which, unlike the Czech Register of Data on Real Owners, is open to the public) which shows the names of five real owners Agrofert. Andrej Babiš is among them.
This proves that Babiš has never given up control of Agrofert and is caught between two stools – business and politics. Both roles interact and potentially damage the public interest not only of the Czech Republic but also of the European Union.
According to the Czech Act on Conflict of Interest (No. 159/2006 Coll.), some public officials, among others members of the government are prohibited from being the controlling entity of the radio or television broadcasters or periodical press publishers. The competent authority for dealing with this administrative offense, the Municipal Office in Černošice, is determined by the permanent address of Andrej Babiš. Maximum fine is CZK 250,000. The decision by the Černošice municipality is currently not in force and unavailable to the public. Only Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who has already had the decision for two days, can make it public.
In our opinion, it is more than fair for the decision to be public because without it we will be kept in the dark for the next few months. Černosice’s decision is linked to the European complaint and review by the European Commission, where all parties have committed themselves to resolve the problem as soon as possible.
“Andrej Babiš will appeal and the case will continue. The second instance decision cannot be anticipated, but the Černošice Office likely has a well-grounded decision so the opposite assessment by the regional authority would be rather surprising,” explains Petr Leyer, TI CZ lawyer.
TI continues to follow up on our second complaint, which was directed to the European Commission. This complaint focuses on the Prime Minister’s conflict of interests and, in particular, on the question of the legitimacy of drawing European subsidies by the Agrofert holding in connection with its controlling person, namely Andrej Babiš.
The European Commission takes our initiative very seriously, which is confirmed by its last steps, i.e. suspending the reimbursement of subsidies to Agrofert and subsequently, sending auditors to the Czech Republic to thoroughly investigate the whole situation.
TI’s Czech complaint (CZE)
TI’s European complaint (ENG)
Transparency International Czech Republic
We have been actively fighting against corruption in the Czech Republic for 20 years as a branch of Transparency International‚s global network of NGOs. We engage civil society, the private sector and the state sector in a broad debate on good governance. We benefit from years of transnational experience and experience in setting up anti-corruption programs and strategies. Through our projects, we are actively contributing to systemic changes.
We run a free anti-corruption legal advice centre for the public, which is used by hundreds of clients from all over the country.
We uncover the networks of politicians and entrepreneurs, e.g. around ROP Severozápad, laundering of post-Soviet money in the Czech Republic or the First protected workshop. We are focusing on the issue of conflicts of interest over the long term, currently in connection with the Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Agrofert.
Our activities helped save billions of CZK from public budgets.
Financial support from the general public is key to us, adding not only to our stability but also to independence and credibility. Thank you that we are not alone on our way to a more decent Czech Republic without corruption.
This is a breakthrough decision. The very essence of the matter is that the conflict of interest of the Prime Minister must be solved, which is now probably ordered by the public institution. The options are clear; either giving up the political functions or selling the media part of Agrofert.